If you fail to pay your property taxes, the past-due amount becomes a lien on your home. This type of lien almost always has priority over other liens, including mortgages. Generally, when taxes remain unpaid, the taxing authority will eventually sell the lien (and if you don't pay the past-due amount to the lien purchaser, that party can foreclose or use some other method to get title to the home), or sell the property itself in a tax sale. Though, in some places, a sale isn't held; instead, the taxing authority executes its lien by taking title to the home. State law then generally provides a procedure for the taxing authority to dispose of the property, usually by selling it. In other jurisdictions, the taxing authority uses a foreclosure process before holding a sale.
In Louisiana, after a tax sale happens, you'll likely lose ownership of your home (or some portion of it) if you don't get caught up on the overdue amounts. Fortunately, Louisiana law gives you a significant amount of time after the sale to "redeem" the property—that is, getting current on the past-due taxes, plus interest and various costs—so you can keep your home.
Following a Louisiana tax sale, the tax collector files a tax sale certificate in the public records. (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 47:2155). A tax sale certificate transfers "tax sale title" only, which means the purchaser's interest in the property is subject to the right of redemption. (A tax sale certificate in Louisiana is basically the same as a tax deed, as mentioned in the Louisiana Constitution.)
In Louisiana, you generally get three years after the date the tax sale certificate is recorded to redeem your property from the purchaser. (La. Const. Art. VII, § 25). But in the city of New Orleans, when the property is abandoned or blighted, the redemption period is 18 months. (La. Const. Art. VII, § 25).
To redeem your Louisiana property following the sale, you must pay:
Even though you'll get a redemption period after a Louisiana tax sale, in most cases, it's better to take action before you become delinquent on your taxes to make them more affordable. You could, for example:
If you want more information about property tax and redemption laws in Louisiana, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer, tax lawyer, or real estate lawyer who has experience with property tax issues. To learn more about property taxes and other aspects of homeownership in general, get Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home by Ilona Bray, J.D., Attorney Ann O'Connell, and Marcia Stewart.